Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Ezekiel 20:1-26): I know you will have a comeback for this gotcha questions. But, in v. 3, God says he will not give the Israelite leaders a message, but then he goes on for the rest of this story and gives information for Ezekiel to pass on to the leaders. Maybe it’s not the kind of “message” they desired? Also, can you explain vs. 21-26? In v. 25, God says that he gave Jacob’s descendants “worthless decrees and regulations.” What story is this referring to? God also allowed them to kill their firstborn as an offering to idols. God has said that this is a detestable act. Why would He allow it?
A. I’m sure “you’re going to die horribly for your sins” was not exactly the message they were seeking, so I would agree with your likely guess that God’s response was hostile. In this instance, they were trying to take advantage of Ezekiel’s connection with God for their own gain (according to this reading), which was just one more insult to God Himself.
The verses you refer to have something to do with the radical laws of certain kings (specifically Ahaz and Manasseh) and their commands. Per Exodus 13, as we looked at long ago, God required that every firstborn male be consecrated to Him, but it appears that these men required that the infants actually BE SACRIFICIED to these pagan gods in question (v. 26). Not only was this a horrible affront to God as it related to His view of children, but the corruption of one of the most sacred laws of the Torah was simply insult to injury. I think it is clear to see why God was upset.
Q. (21:4): Why would God cut off the righteous too? In an earlier vision with the six men carrying weapons and the other wearing linen, God instructed that marks be put on some people and those people were spared in the massacre. Here, he is not sparing anyone.
A. The punishment being enacted by God is severe, so everyone will suffer in this crisis. This does not mean that God will kill them in the physical sense, but that they will be under judgment and part of whatever God allows to happen to the city. In this case that is famine and suffering under siege.
Q. The sword symbolizes God’s wrath?
A. Yes, and the sword is “drawn” to bring down that wrath via the Babylonians.
Q. (21:27): Who is God referring to here when He says “it will not be restored until the one appears who has the right to judge it”?
A. My interpretation of the verse is that it refers to the Messiah, Jesus. Note what is being said here: you princes and other rulers are about to lose your throne, and the throne will not be reestablished until I give it to one from your line (David). No king will again sit on David’s throne until Jesus (and even He does it metaphorically), so that would be my explanation. God will not give the true throne of Jerusalem over to anyone but the one to whom it rightly belongs: the Messiah.
Q. (22:1-16): I am confused because I thought God was going to bring the exiles back to a renewed Jerusalem, but here in v. 4, God says, “You have reached the end of your years.”
A. The judgment is upon the corrupt kings/princes that have served in Jerusalem AFTER the exiles have been taken, so God is free to proclaim judgment upon those who are left (remember our images of good and bad fruit from earlier in this book? -The bad fruit stayed in Jerusalem!) and still restore the exiles. Only the corrupt face complete destruction; God will save His remnant, even if they must suffer through the process.